Skip to main content

From creative passion to all business

It’s a major leap for any creative to turn their artistic practice into a reliable living, whether it’s a hobby-turned-side-hustle or their main source of income. For Leigh Wilkins, the decision to combine being an artist and an entrepreneur arrived after a long career spanning several industries.

Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Leigh Wilkins Acrylics was established in 2021, but Leigh’s first solo exhibition dates back to 1999 at Turk’s Coffee on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. The small company is a unique home-based business.

“The foundation of my art business is my original paintings. From here I developed different ways to incorporate my art into sources of income,” Leigh says. “I use my images to create and sell: prints, art cards, calendars, mouse pads, totes, clothing, aprons, placemats, mugs and my buttons.”

Although painting is both her business and her calling today, Leigh had an exciting and varied professional life in multiple roles before arriving at a career with her canvas. After leaving her family farm long ago, Wilkins began her professional life studying Tourism Management in Montreal, eventually working at a hotel there after graduation. She spent many years in management, as well as taking roles working with railways, market research, the cigar industry, retail, human resources, and even returned to farming at one point.

Life learnings become foundations

These experiences prepared her for taking charge as a small business owner for her artistic endeavours. As any home-based art business owner can confirm, being an entrepreneur means wearing a multitude of different hats and running many (if not every) area of the business–from marketing and outreach to bookkeeping.

“In my daily life I am engaging with my art community, the local, provincial, and national business community along with a variety of professionals to expand my market,” Leigh says.

“Another aspect of my small business is participating in art shows. This entails locating, researching, and submitting to a variety of shows. Finally, though my small business is based on my passion of being a painter, the reality is most of my days are spent being a manager, bookkeeper, marketer, networker, and salesperson.”

Leigh Wilkins standing in front of painting titled "Hope"

Top tips for creative entrepreneurs

After a year of experience, Leigh has a few small business tips to impart to fellow creatives following their passion and becoming entrepreneurs.

  1. Research Everything
    “The most important advice I would give to anyone starting a small business in BC is to have passion for the business and to do your research of the market, costs, and the competition.”
  2. Plan how to fund your business
    “I would suggest considering whether you expect your business to be your sole income, or if you need another source of income to sustain your business and lifestyle. Ultimately, I believe you need to be true to yourself and be you.”
  3. Prepare for the unexpected
    “When I committed to taking my art from a hobby to a business, I realized I needed to look at all aspects of going to that next level, including purchasing insurance. I knew that I needed to reach out to a company that I felt was simple, straight forward, and trustworthy to get insurance protection. I knew getting the insurance would give me peace of mind at the beginning of my business and when my business grew.

    “Although I do not drive and have never had a BCAA Membership, our conversation was welcoming and full of open communication. During our conversation, I realized that my home insurance would not cover my home-based small business. I was given all my options in a professional and considerate manner with a side of fun. A key element of the policy for me was the fact that I was getting BCAA Small Business Insurance with customizable protection.”

Customize your coverage with small business insurance

It’s always a great time to review your current insurance policy to ensure you have the right coverage in place. Remember to notify BCAA when you purchase new assets that need additional coverage, otherwise the coinsurance clause could be triggered and your claim settlement could be reduced. It’s good practice to keep an inventory of assets you’ve purchased and annually review your list. Compare the cost of replacing everything to the cost of your insurance limit. As always, any questions can be answered by your SBI advisor.

BCAA Small Business Insurance offers you customized coverage with online convenience, so you can quote and buy online whenever it suits you. Plus, if you have a personal BCAA Membership you’ll save up to 10%.

If you have any questions along the way, our BCAA Small Business Insurance advisors are ready to help online or over the phone on 1.888.268.2222. Visit to get your quote today.